If you’ve been following along, we’ve been talking about the imminent change of seasons, the upcoming holidays, and the preparations needed to have a home that is “company ready.” (You can catch up on how to make your kitchen company ready here.) Just like your kitchen, your bathroom is likely to be a high-traffic area when it comes to hosting family and friends. If the idea of someone using your bathroom makes you cringe (or has you considering putting an “out-of-order” sign on the door and sending them to your next-door neighbor’s house), or even if you’ve just long been dreaming of remodeling your bathroom, we’ve got you covered!

Put first things first. Consider yourself warned. It is a mistake to plan for the fancy flourishes or to map out where the fixtures will go without being aware of where your vents, drains, and water lines are situated. Your contractor can help you identify these when you discuss your ideas. You can move around that toilet wherever you want in that virtual design program, but if it doesn’t line up with where it can attach and function, then it’s just a beautiful, nonworking toilet, right?

Before you do anything else on your bathroom remodel, have a conversation with your design team about how to use your space most effectively and efficiently. Only after that’s been squared away should you consider the aesthetics of the room.

Pro Tip: You can also ask your contractor to do a pre-remodel inspection to prevent any surprises that may cost you time and money on the project.

Consider function over form. Think about how you’re going to use the room beyond the obvious hand washing and showering. If you’ll be applying makeup or grooming that beard you’re super proud of, lighting around your mirrors will be extra important. Are you going to be tending to bath time for little ones? Two words for you: handheld showerhead. Do you hate plunging toilets? Perhaps you should investigate low-volume, high-pressure toilets. Are family members prone to walking in without knocking? Maybe rethink that glass shower door you’ve been imagining and opt for a more privacy-friendly shower curtain (or at least tinted glass). And while you’re considering privacy, ensure your choice of window treatments don’t “treat” the surrounding homes to anything that can’t be unseen. Pay attention to the details now, and you’ll save yourself time and aggravation later.

 Make use of the space you have. Decide in advance what belongs in the bathroom, and what should be stored elsewhere. Make these decisions before you remodel your bathroom so that you can design with storage in mind. Maybe that means picking a vanity sink over a pedestal sink so there’s somewhere to store the bucket of bath toys. Or you might choose wall-mounted cabinets if there tend to be lots of toiletries taking over your countertops. You don’t want to design a bathroom that looks gorgeous but can’t hold what it needs to hold. You can find some creative bathroom storage ideas here.

 Prioritize your spending. Focus on where you should spend and where you have more flexibility with your budget. Don’t skimp on professional contractors, well-installed plumbing and electricity, matters of safety, and things that will cost you money to replace when they can’t withstand the environment. For safety purposes, that means grounded outlets, proper ventilation, and floor choices that don’t make your bathroom into a slip ‘n slide park. If you have someone in your home with limited mobility, it might also mean remembering to install grab bars for your shower/tub and toilet.

Be mindful of the environment. Being budget conscious is one thing; making choices based on durability in the conditions given is another. Cheap cabinets are cheap. They’re also no match for a constantly wet environment. (Just say “no” to particleboard.) Everything in your bathroom should play nicely with water. That means window treatments that are moisture and humidity resistant. It means semi-gloss paint (which repels moisture and is washable and mildew-resistant) or water-resistant wallpaper. It means maybe skipping the carpeting in this room. (If you really like the feel of carpet under your feet fresh out of the shower, pick a washable bath mat that you love instead.)

And don’t underestimate convenience when you’re prioritizing what you do and where you spend money on your bathroom remodel. Choose easy-to-wipe surfaces. Remember that your bathroom will only continue to look beautiful if you can keep it clean (and that your time is valuable, too!)

 Play with design and flourishes. Once you’ve figured out the logistics of layout, safety, and ease of use, you can have fun making this space uniquely yours. Here too is where you have the most flexibility in terms of creating a dream space with any budget.

If you’re on a tight budget, resist the urge to be drawn in by the latest fads/trends. Neutral colors and natural finishes are the way to go, and you can add pops of color and personality with hand towels, shower curtains, and accessories. There’s a premium price to being trendy. Sticking with the classics is typically a more cost-efficient option. Dream about floor-to-ceiling tiles? You can choose a less expensive tile for most of the surfaces and highlight with accent tiles. Have fancy vanity taste but a utility sink budget? You can repurpose old furniture (like a dresser) into a creative storage solution. You can also ask your contractor what needs to be replaced and what can be refinished. Be creative and resourceful and you can duplicate most any “high-end” look you like and still be kind to your wallet.

 And speaking of “high end,” there are some options out there that may have you setting up permanent shop in your bathroom. Televisions, surround sound, in-floor radiant heating, hot tubs, rainforest showers, luxurious seating areas…All you need is a fridge and a hot plate, and you’d never have to leave. (Check out these drool-worthy upgrades!)

Plan that bathroom remodel now, and by the time you’re hosting family and friends for the holidays, all you’ll have to do is remember to replace the toilet paper roll and swish cleaner in the toilet bowl!